Ocie Elliott: Facing the Music

Ocie Elliott: Facing the Music

Victoria duo describes effects of COVID crisis

When the COVID-19 crisis struck in mid-March, Victoria-based indie folk duo Ocie Elliott had just returned from Europe with fellow local band Current Swell. The duo—featuring Jon Middleton and Sierra Lundy—was set to head back to Europe in less than six weeks and play several summer festivals, including the Winnipeg Folk Fest. Their fourth album was set to drop in late March and plans for additional tours in Canada and the US were underway.

Then everything came to a screeching halt. Sold-out album release shows in Victoria, Duncan and Vancouver were cancelled, and the album, In That Room, dropped without any live-show fanfare. Like many bands, Ocie Elliott had to quickly switch gears. Monday caught up with Ocie Elliott to ask a few questions:

What has been the most challenging aspect of the COVID period for you?

For us, the hardest part has been not knowing when we’ll be able to go back on the road and play music to live audiences—we had so many tours and festivals lined up for the spring, summer and fall and it’s been hard to see all of them get cancelled. Also, spending so much time in one place, internally and externally has brought its challenges.

What steps did you take to mitigate the effects of the shutdown?

We tried our best to make small goals that gave us things to work towards, such as learning new cover songs to record once a week in our CRV (we often record video sessions performed from the back seat of our cosy and wonderful-sounding 2001 Honda CRV). Thankfully, we also had an album come out March 20th, which gave us something to focus on and look forward to, and also made us feel as if we were still being active musically.

Have there been any positives to come out of this?

There have been a few for sure. We absolutely love to travel and tour, but Jon in particular has done so much of it over the years that it’s been nice to get a bit of a breather from all the movement. We’ve also had more time to focus on writing new music. Usually, and especially during the summer, there are so many shows happening and that makes it hard to really get into writing. It’s also been refreshing being able to slow down and reflect on how fortunate we are as a band and just in general, living where we do.

You had significant momentum underway, do you think this period has hindered this?

It definitely has, since touring is such a huge part of promotion and career development in the music industry. That being said, since everyone has been more engaged with online resources like streaming services and social media, we have seen some growth in that regard.

The one thing we always keep in mind is that we aren’t the only ones going through these kinds of hindrances and challenges—so many industries are facing huge struggles. The only thing we can do is try stay positive and to work with what we have.

You just dropped another EP July 17. How has the continued shutdown of live music affected this release?

Part of the fun of putting out new music is getting to play it live, so not being able to do that has been disheartening. As mentioned, it’s also a key part of promoting new music. We had a number of album release concerts scheduled locally to promote our March release, and not being able to share our new songs live has, well, sucked. This being said, we’re really touched by all the support we’ve had online from our fans through streaming, comments and personal messages during this time—it really has made a difference.

Do you have any live shows scheduled? Planned?

Right now, the only concerts we have scheduled are for May 2021 in Europe (hopefully these can happen!). In the meantime, with the capacity limitations being what they are, we are pretty limited in what we can do. We’re hoping that things will be back closer to normal for spring and summer of 2021 and we’re planning accordingly!

How can music lovers help you and other musicians during this difficult time?

Streaming and sharing in any way possible…. For us, music has been an essential ingredient in getting through these times, and so we hope our music does the same for others. The more people listen and connect to our music, the more supported we feel in return. It’s a sweet little cycle that makes COVID feel a bit more manageable.

Photography by Lia Crowe

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The COVID-19 pandemic had an effect on film production on central and north Vancouver Island, says Vancouver Island North Film Commission. Pictured here, production of TV series Resident Alien in Ladysmith earlier this year. (Black Press file)
Film commissioner says COVID-19 cost central Island $6 million in economic activity

Jurassic World: Dominion, Chesapeake Shores among productions halted due to pandemic, says INFilm

Chelsey Moore’s character Chloe in the upcoming virtual reality game Altdeus: Beyond Chronos. Screengrab
Vancouver Island actress finds success in a virtual world

Black Creek’s Chelsey Moore lends her voice to a new video game set for release in December

Ceramic artist Darrel Hancock working on a clay jug in his home studio in Qualicum Beach. (Submitted photo)
Qualicum Beach potter Darrel Hancock celebrates 40 years in business

‘It’s wonderful to do what you love and make a living at it’

Artist Daniel Cline discusses his sculpture, Harmony Humpbacks, during the June 20 walking tour of Oak Bay’s 2019 ArtsAlive sculptures. Harmony Humpbacks was purchased by Oak Bay as the 2019 people’s choice winner and is permanently installed at the Beach Drive entrance to Willows Park. (Kevin Murdoch Photo)
Influx of donated art a ‘fantastic problem to have,’ says Oak Bay mayor

Oak Bay goes from zero to 10 permanent art pieces since 2015

Stephen Laidlaw, prepator with Nanaimo Art Gallery, hangs a photograph of Anna Wong, a B.C. print maker whose works are on display at the gallery. The exhibit opens Friday, Dec. 4, and runs until Feb. 7. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo Art Gallery exhibit explores life work of overlooked B.C. printmaker

‘Anna Wong: Traveller on Two Roads’ features more than 70 art works and personal belongings

Nanaimo rappers Konfidential and Teus released their first joint album, <em>The Invasion</em>. (Photo courtesy Raymond Knight)
Nanaimo rappers Konfidential and Teus release first joint album

Duo plan elaborate live-streamed CD release for ‘The Invasion’

Next month Nanaimo musician Spencer Hiemstra releases his solo debut album, ‘Wildlife.’ (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo musician Spencer Hiemstra releases solo debut album

New record ‘Wildlife’ about taking chances and going through changes

Dover Bay Secondary School student Victoria Hathfield’s poem <em>Dear Santa</em> appears in<em> Chicken Soup for the Soul: Christmas is in the Air</em>. (Photo courtesy Darren Lee)
Nanaimo high schooler has first poem published in ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’

Victoria Hathfield’s ‘Dear Santa’ appears in new Christmas-themed edition of anthology series

Nanaimo graphic designer Amy Pye has written and illustrated her first children’s book, <em>G is for Grizzly Bear: A Canadian Alphabet</em>. (Photo courtesy Amy Pye)
Nanaimo graphic designer releases first children’s book

Amy Pye teaches the Canadian alphabet in ‘G is for Grizzly Bear’

The Vancouver Island Symphony’s Back Row Brass Quintet – including trumpeter Mark D’Angelo, tuba player Nick Atkinson and French horn player Karen Hough (from left) – were scheduled to tour the Nanaimo area with Christmas Under the Big Tent, but the concert series has now been cancelled. (Photo courtesy HA Photography)
Symphony brass quintet’s Christmas concert series cancelled

Performances were to happen at venues in Parksville and Lantzville next month

The Sheringham Point Lighthouse, near Shirley. (Contributed - Lee-Ann Ruttan)
New book shines a light on Sheringham Point Lighthouse

Publication examines history, lightkeepers, and volunteer society

Victoria-based guitarist Eric Harper performs at the Port Theatre on Nov. 27. (Photo credit Tatum Duryba)
Classical guitarist to play at the Port Theatre

Eric Harper to play new songs composed during the pandemic

Most Read